At the end of World War II, US troops stopped a Nazi train in Austria carrying gold, art and other goods stolen from Hungarian Jews. The items were not returned to their owners - some even ended up in US officers' homes.
Now, as Daniel Lak reports, a court in Florida is finalising a US government settlement worth about $25m (£13m).
David Mermelstein has vivid memories of what the Nazis and Hungarian police stole from his family in their town in the Carpathian mountains, then a part of Hungary.
"Fine china, lace, a bag of gold and silver jewellery, my sister's
dowry, the candle sticks and wine cups that we used for religious festivals and all of our money," says 74-year-old Mr Mermelstein, sitting in a cafe in south-west Miami.
Many Jews who survived the Holocaust returned to looted homes
Pausing for a moment, he adds: "But mostly they stole my family. Of
all of us, five brothers and sisters, my father, my mother, my grandmother, I'm on the only one who survived. I'll never get compensation for that."
It was 1944 and Mr Mermelstein was 17 years old. Hitler's regime was
losing the war.
Yet the Nazis were determined to complete the genocide of Jews in Europe, including Hungary's Jewish community of 800,000.
Mr Mermelstein and hundreds of thousands of other Hungarian Jews were deported to death camps, such as Auschwitz.
Through various twists of fate, young David Mermelstein survived, and
made his way to America.
China and silverware
There he raised his own family and tried to put the horrors of the Holocaust behind him.
But in 1999, President Bill Clinton's high-level Commission on Holocaust Assets issued a report on what happened to Jewish assets looted by the Nazis.
Mr Mermelstein was horrified by what he read.
THE 'GOLD TRAIN' CASE
Items on train included gold, jewellery, art, Oriental rugs, china, glassware, silver and religious items
Goods worth up to $200m
Contents wrongly classified as enemy property and requisitioned by US Army
Believed to be 30,000-50,000 surviving victims
Class-action suit brought in Miami by Hungarian Holocaust survivors in 2001
"It was there in black and white," he says.
The report revealed long secret information about the US military and the fate of a trainload of Jewish possessions intercepted by American soldiers in 1945.
It said that some 24 boxcars full of goods stolen from Hungarian Jews by the Nazis had been appropriated by the US army with some senior officers even taking the finest china and silverware for themselves.
"It's not about the material loss, it's not about the money," says
lawyer Sam Dubbin, who led the legal team which sued the US government on behalf of the Hungarian survivors.
"It's about history, it's about closure, it's about a great country - the US - acknowledging that it did something wrong, even as it liberated Europe from the Nazis."
The case has not been without controversy.
Some scholars have argued that the story of the "gold train" is false and the possessions of Hungarian Jews were stolen by their own government just after the war.
This was certainly the position of the American Department of Justice which opposed the survivors' attempts at compensation from the moment the suit was filed, at first denying the charges, then saying that the events were too long ago for a contemporary court to consider. Judge Patricia Seitz ruled against this argument.
"It's typical of governments to refuse to acknowledge that they've
done anything wrong," says Jay Weaver, legal correspondent for the Miami Herald newspaper.
"They don't want to set a precedent, they don't want to open the
floodgates, so they stall and raise points of law. When the judge saw this was happening, she nudged the two sides towards a mediated settlement.
A Budapest memorial for 600,000 Hungarian Holocaust victims
"Otherwise it could have gone on for years and many of the survivors might have died."
Many of those involved in the case are still in Hungary, and most
of the $25m in compensation paid by the government will go to
None is to be given to those survivors who migrated to America,
Canada or Australia.
Back in Florida, 73-year-old Alex Moscovic - a survivor and
plaintiff in this case - welcomes the settlement of the lawsuit.
But he wants something more.
"Never mind money," he says.
"I don't need any. This is about righting a historic wrong. We in the United States have admitted that slavery was wrong, that some wars were wrong. We said 'yes, we did it, we shouldn't have'.
"That's what we need to do here. I love this country because it saved me after the war and it gave me a wonderful life. Now I'd like it to be generous one more time and apologise to us."